Duke (19-7) vs. Georgia Tech (17-8)
Durham, N.C. (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
1:00 p.m., CBS
Program Vitals Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference Nickname: Yellow Jackets Colors: Gold, Navy, & White Head Coach: Paul Hewitt (7th year) Career Record at Georgia Tech: 199-118 (337-244 Overall - 19 years)
Projected Starters: 1 Javaris Crittenton (6-5, 195, Fr.) - 14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.5 apg 23 Anthony Morrow (6-5, 205, Jr.) – 9.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg 4 Ra'Sean Dickey (6-9, 255, Jr.) – 8.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg 33 Thaddeus Young (6-8, 215, Fr.) – 13.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg 2.0 apg 32 Jeremis Smith (6-6, 232, Jr.) – 8.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg Key Reserves: 11 Mouhammad Faye (6-8, 190, Fr.) – 4.6 ppg, 3.3 apg 5 Mario West (6-4, 208, Sr.) – 4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.6 apg 44 Alade Aminu (6-9, 210, So.) – 4.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg 13 D'Andre Bell (6-5, 200, So.) – 1.2 ppg
Sunday's game will mark the 80th time the two teams have met with the Blue Devils holding a 27-22 lead in the series. In January's first match up, the Blue Devils were unable to containt Ra'Sean DIckey early, and then the brilliance of freshman Javaris Crittenton sealed the deal on an 11 point victory for the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta.
How They Will Enter The Match Up:
Duke finally broke their nationally covered losing streak with an eight point victory in Chestnut Hill over league leading Boston College on Thursday night. Georgia Tech also suffered a four game losing streak, but has rebounded with four straight wins over Clemson, NC State, Connecticut, and Florida State respectively.
Mouhammad Faye has been sidelined with flu like symptoms over the past few games for Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, Duke enters Sunday's game healthy.
Improved Defense Tells The Tale:
During their four game losing streak the Yellow Jackets were surrendering 78.8 points per game to their opponents - culminating with an embarassing 85 points allowed in 10 point defeat at Wake Forest. Since that loss Georgia Tech has ratcheted up the intensity on the defensive end of the floor, allowing just 59.0 points per contest during this four game win streak.
Hardly Road Warriors:
The game in Cameron will mark the seventh conference road game of the season for Georgia Tech. The results in the previous six have been anything but stellar. The Yellow Jackets are just 1-5 when hitting the road in ACC play, and have been out-scored by an average of 7.5 points per game in such contests.
Despite the earlier woes, the Yellow Jackets did manage to handle Florida State in Tallahassee on Tuesday, winning 63-57 and overcoming a five point halftime deficit.
Crittenton May Be League's Best New Comer:
Currently locked in a battle with North Carolina's Brandan Wright for ACC Rookie of the Year honors, Georgia Tech's Javaris Crittenton has already been the difference maker between Georgia Tech and Duke once this season. In conference games, Crittenton is the highest-ranked freshman in scoring (16.6 ppg), assists (4.64 per game), and steals (2.36 per game), and No. 2 in free throw percentage (88.0 pct.). He is third in field goal percentage (46.9 pct.).
During the first match up in Atlanta the Georgia native started slow, but came up with several big plays down the stretch to secure the win. After Duke rallied to within 55-53 from an 11 point deficit in the second half, the freshman came up huge. Josh McRoberts blocked a shot and came up with the ball, looking to send the Blue Devils on the way to a potential tying basket, but Crittenton sneaked in from behind, swiped the ball away and went in for a dunk with 3:35 remaining. He would also convert a crucial three point play, and make a late steal to kill Duke's comeback chances on his way to 11 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
Duke will have to defend the Interior:
While their dynamite freshman guard won the game for them down the stretch, Georgia Tech got a big lift early on from sophomore big man Ra'Sean Dickey who scored a career best 21 points and grabbed six rebounds. Since that time Dickey broken double figures just twice - a 10 point effort against Maryland and a 14 point night against Wake Forest. In the other seven games he's averaging just 4.3 points per contest.
Offense Sighting In Boston:
After struggling with shot selection, distribution, and a general lack of scoring during their four game losing streak, the Blue Devils rebounded in a big way against Boston College, hitting the Eagles from a number of difference sources en route to 78 points - a total that could have been much higher had the offense not slowed down to take time off the clock at the 11:57 mark of the second half. The catalyst was a much improved effort from sophomore captain Greg Paulus who had 15 points on nine shots to go along with five rebounds and a season high seven assists.
Playing For A Seed:
The general consensus is the victory over Boston College solidified Duke's place in the field of 65 teams for the NCAA Tournament. Now the Blue Devils must continue to build and rack up wins to ensure they avoid a low seed in whichever region they are assigned.
Georgia Tech 62